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5 Tips for Effective Storytelling in Training

Posted by Linda Carole Pierce on 9/19/13 4:00 AM
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In a previous blog, I emphasized that effective trainers use stories as an instructional technique to engage their learners. In this blog I will highlight five tips to help you be effective when sharing stories in training. I have incorporated the following steps into my process for many years and have witnessed much success.



1. Know Your Purpose. It is important to know why you are telling the story. What is your intention? Do you want to engage, hook, humanize, or demystify? What thoughts do you want to provoke and what responses are anticipated? You must be clear about the message you want to convey.

2. Be Brief. As trainers we are always dealing with time constraints. We must choose stories that we can own so that we can get to the point quickly without appearing rushed and losing the essence of the story. To avoid rambling, make sure you have a strong beginning, middle, and ending. Don’t include details that you don’t need. Remember KISS: Keep It Short and Simple!

3. Create a Story File. Collect stories that are relevant to your content. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I have stories for each course. Some of those stories are from my personal experience, but often they come from the participants’ experiences. To mix things up, there are loads of material from current events that can be relevant to the content. The important thing is to keep it fresh!

4. Rehearse the Delivery! When we tell stories we are painting a picture for our listeners, and if we do it well, we will connect with them on an emotional level. This is where our presentation skills training will come into play. We must practice pausing, varying our tone, and placing emphasis where it is most needed. In addition to our verbal delivery we want to be aware of our non-verbal communication as well.

5. Be Your Authentic Self. Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability. When we share experiences that highlight our own challenges, it humanizes us and deepens the connection with the participants without jeopardizing the credibility factor. We don’t always have to be the hero in our stories. Be honest about your weaknesses and learn to laugh at yourself. The learners appreciate this type of humility and humor. Most importantly, own your story. The more you can speak from your heart, the more authentic you will feel and you will experience a deeper rapport with your participants.

Remember effective training is not just about delivering facts; it’s also about connecting with our learners on a deeper level. The use of stories is a powerful instructional technique that enhances learner engagement and retention. So let’s tell our stories because we all have a story to tell!


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Linda has been a course leader with Langevin since 2005. She graduated from New York University with a degree in Organizational Behavior and Communication. She’s also had the privilege of teaching at NYU’s Gallatin Division in the area of Theatre and Education. Linda began her career facilitating conflict resolution and coexistence workshops for diverse groups, and running workshops in the Middle East and South Africa, as well as facilitating social issues workshops for young people in the NYC school system. Linda believes learning works best when it is student-centered, experiential, interactive, and fun. Outside of the classroom, you’ll find Linda at the theatre, either as an audience member or actor, or spending quality time with her family and friends.

Topics: instructional techniques, presentation skills, tips-for-trainers

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